Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Strychnia- Reanimated Monstrosity

Hey guys! I know it has been a really really long time since I've posted here, I was really busy with school and looking for summer employment (which I happily found) and now I finally have some time to review a new album (that came out over a week ago, but whatever).  Today I will be reviewing the new album from New Jersey thrashers, and front runners for nicest guys in metal, Strychnia entitled Reanimated Monstrosity

For those of you who have not heard of Strychnia, follow these steps: 1. Click here to read my post that I did about them last year.  2. Go like them on facebook and follow them on twitter.  3. Go to their bandcamp page and download their first album The Anatomy of Execution for free.  4. Read this review.  5. Download their new EP Reanimated Monstrosity.  6. Headbang and enjoy.  For those of you who have heard of Strychnia, you can skip all these steps and read on. 

Strychnia is, in my opinion, one of the more unique underground bands to emerge in the last few years.  Their mixture of death and thrash metal is one that sets them apart from all the other bands in the genre.  When I first heard that Strychnia was recording a new album I got really excited.  I loved The Anatomy of Execution it was fast, brutal, unique, catchy, and free to download.  So when I saw the band announce that they were recording a new EP, the little me inside my mind jumped for joy.  I was really excited to see what these guys would throw at its fans for their new album. 

Needless to say when they released the first song "War Sermon", I was not dissapointed.  "War Sermon" continues the aggressive death/thrash combination they had on Anatomy and takes it to the next level.  Just when I thought the bar could not be raised any further, the band released the title track "Reanimated Monstrosity" featuring the vocal talent of John Gallagher from Dying Fetus.  My first reaction when I saw this was "Holy shit! They got John from Dying Fetus? How did they do that?" My second reaction was "Damn he sounds awesome on the track!" Although the vocal styles of Strychnia and Dying Fetus are very different, John's vocal performance on "Reanimated Monstrosity" compliments the song very well and not to mention that the song kicks ass and will send anyone who listens to it into a circle pit frenzy.

After "Reanimated Monstrosity" and "War Sermon" Reanimated Monstrosity thunders through three more tracks "Killdozer"(probably one of my favorite song titles ever), "Cephalectomy", and their cover of the Pantera song "Slaughtered".  I am pleased to say that the rest of the album never lets up.  The band grabs you with the first song and doesn't let go.  If anything the grip tightens as the album progresses.  Each song is just as brutal as the song that came before it and because the album is only five songs long, once the album finishes the band's grip never loosens and you find yourself listening to the album over and over again.

I will admit I was a little nervous when I heard they were covering a Pantera song (a song which you can only get by downloading the album through their bandcamp page).  Pantera was such a unique band for their time and still today no one has replicated the sound that they were able to produce.  So I was a little hesitant the idea of a death/thrash band covering them.  One listen to their cover of "Slaughtered" and any doubt that I had got thrown out the window.  I love that the song starts out with a quote from Phil Anselmo and the song sounds awesome.  I was listening to this album in my car and when this song came on, a huge smile came across my face as I turned the volume up even louder and continued my drive.

Overall I can honestly say I have never heard so much awesome crammed into a single EP since The Devil Wears Prada released Zombie EP (for those of you who own that album, you know what I am talking about).  Reanimated Monstrosity may only be five tracks long, but it packs more of a punch then some full length albums that have been released this year.  The album leaves listeners battered and bruised but wanting more.  And it answers the question "Can an EP be counted in a top 10 list?" with a resounding YES!

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Thanks guys!

Remember, if there is an album you want me to review, or a band you want me to talk about, leave a comment below or tweet me @zachktheanimal.     

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Four Reviews in One! My reviews of the new Killswitch Engage, Bring Me the Horiozon, Finntroll, and Lost Society!

Hey guys! So I have fallen behind on my reviews so I decided instead of doing four separate reviews I would do four shortened reviews in one! Beginning with the new Killswitch Engage album Disarm the Descent
In my opinion there were two bands that were in need of an album to redeem their last effort, one of the those bands was Killswitch Engage (the other was Bring Me the Horizon, but I'll get to that later).  Personally I did not like their last album, Daylight Dies was pretty good but their self titled release was left me disappointed and wishing that I hadn't bought that album. 

Fast forward a few years to 2013 when Killswitch announced that Howard had left the band and would not be recording on their next album.  Personally I was a bit bummed, I liked Howard and his unique voice and I knew that who ever they got to replace him was going to have big shoes to fill.  When they announced Jesse Leach would replace him I didn't really jump for joy because I got in to Killswitch after Jesse had left, but I thought the first single "In Due Time" was good and decided to check out the album. 

Disarm the Descent is a huge step forward from their last release.  The songs are faster and heavier and they don't loose their intensity when the chorus comes around, something the last album seemed to do on EVERY FUCKING SONG! Jesse aggressive vocals style (more aggressive than Howard's) brings a new edge to the band and gives the band new life (it almost seems like they are a new band).  All in all if you were loosing your faith in Killswitch (like my self) Disarm the Descent will restore your faith in this band. 

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Next is Bring Me the Horizon- Sempiternal 
The other band who needed a redemption album was Bring Me the Horizon.  While one of my friends thought their last album There is a Hell Believe Me I've Seen It, There is a Heaven, Lets Keep It A Secret was album of the year, I hated it.  Looking back I don't know why I bought the album.  While I did think there were some good songs on the album, I thought a majority of the time vocalist Oliver Sykes was whining the whole album and I found it annoying and unbearable and I was very hesitant to buy this album. 

This album was a great surprise.  It sounds huge, the band sounds fuller than they ever have sounded and the songs on the first half of the album are awesome and I enjoyed all of them.  I will say though that after "Shadow Moses" really dropped off, there were some bright spots like "Antivist" and "Crooked Young", but to be honest I could really do without tracks 7-11. 

All in all Sempiternal is a solid release.  There are lots of songs that I have been playing on repeat since I got it, and it definitely restored my faith in this band. 
Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Next is Finntroll- Blodsvept
I can honestly say that this album is the first album I was really excited for in 2013.  I loved Finntroll's last release Nifelvind and was really excited when I heard they were recording a new album.  That excitement grew when I heard the first single Blodsvept on YouTube and I was hoping that this album would live up to all the hype. 

To make a long story short, it did.  Blodsvept is everything a Finntroll fan hears and loves with a new album.  Some of the songs may not be as catchy as they were on Nifelvind (all though it is hard to beat "Solsagan"), but they are just as awesome as their previous songs. 

 All in all, Blodsvept is one of Finntroll's best albums, it will have listeners dancing around the room to their addictive version of folk metal.  With this album Finntroll proves why they are one of the best in the folk metal genre and quickly jumped into my top 5 albums of this year. 
Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Last but certainly not least, Lost Society- Fast Loud Death
The debut from the new Finnish thrashers Lost Society was another album I was looking forward too.  These crazy Finns lured me in with their song "Kill (Those Who Oppose Me)" and from that point on I was counting down the days until they had the pre-orders for this album available in the US. 

The recent wave of thrash revival bands has split into two different sides, those who take thrash and put their own unique spin on it (that would be Skeletonwitch) and bands who are trying to sound like a band from the 80s (that would be Fueled by Fire).  I would like to say before I go on that I like both branches of the thrash revival.  Lost Society walks the fine line between the two branches with great ease.  They have the right combination of an old and new school sound mixed with modern production value. 

This is a killer combination and one that should keep Lost Society in the thrash game for years to come.  Fast Loud Death is an all out thrash attack.  It will lure fans in right from the get go and keep them headbanging until their necks just dangle from a small flap of skin.  Lost Society has emerged as the new leader in the thrash revival game and they look to hold that position for years to come.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Thanks guys! Sorry this post was a bit long!

Don't forget if there is an album you want me to review or a band you want me to talk about, tweet me @zachktheanimal or leave a comment below.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Corsair- Self Titled

Hey guys! For today's post I am doing another request for my friend named Rick, he recommended I check out this band named Corsair and review their self titled debut album.  So here we go!
I've noticed in the last in the last year or so there is a rise in bands going back in time, in a sense, to the old metal sound of 70s.  These bands are really hit or miss for me.  For some reason I have a hard time latching on to newer bands with this older sound.  The only band I can think of that really caught my ear was Gypsyhawk.  Then my friend Rick said that I should check out Corsair.  He told me they had a sound like Thin Lizzy and although there sound may be a little bit rough that it was nothing to drastic. 

Honestly Rick could not have been more spot on.  The album opens with the instrumental "Agathyrsi" and the first thing that popped into my head was Thin Lizzy.  If you were to close your eyes and forget the name of the band and the song title you would think you were listening to a long lost Thin Lizzy record.  There are also hints of Iron Maiden when the two guitar players start playing the lead lines together.  The combination of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden creates a unique sound that although is clearly trying to emulate bands of the past, separates them from the rest of the retro metal pack. 

My favorite song is "Falconer", it is in this song that Corsair is at their best.  The intro guitar melody is catchy as fuck! It will instantly get stuck in your head and it sounds like a early Thin Lizzy recording, that is until the vocals come in.  Although Corsair does not have that low, velvety (don't know if that's the right word) vocals that Phil had in Thin Lizzy, their vocal style fits the bands style like a glove. 

As for the recording quality, could it be better? Possibly, but I think that for the band's sound the recording quality makes the most sense.  It almost sounds like they were really a band from back in the day, instead of a band trying to sound like a band back in the day.  And it is clear.  There are times where the vocals may get a little covered up, but for the most part everything can be clearly heard on each song. 

Overall the debut from Corsair is solid and very promising.  It's only eight songs and costs $8 on iTunes.  If you are looking for a new band with a retro sound, Corsair is your band, and this album is a great first step into what I can only hope is a successful career. 

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 

Thanks guys!

Don't forget if you have an album you want me to review or a band you want me to talk about, leave a comment below or tweet me @zachktheanimal.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Six Feet Under- Unborn

Hey guys! I'm blogging from my flight back to school.  Stage one is a flight from Miami to Los Angeles and I had to check a homework assignment online but had to pay for an hour of wifi so I figured I'd review another CD.  I am typing this while scrunched in my seat because the guy in front of me decided to lean his seat back and to make matters worse my seat won't lean back.  But I promise my seating situation will not interfere with my review for Six Feet Under's latest release Unborn.

Once again the phrase "better late than never" applies to this review as well.

I will say I am a new fan to Six Feet Under.  I had not listened to them a whole lot before I saw them on Summer Slaughter in 2011.  Their aggressive live show got me hooked, not to mention I almost broke my neck when they played their version of "Hammer Smash Face" so when they released Undead  I went out and bought it.  Undead in all respects was a decent album.  Lead singer Chris Barnes' voice created the perfect haunting atmosphere to accompany the infectious death metal that Six Feet Under cranked out.  But when I saw on twitter that the group was working on a new album my ears perked up. 

On rare occasions do I see artists release albums in back to back years.  I know Korpiklaani did it last year with Manala, but other than that most artists will release an album every two years.  I think the biggest risk with releasing albums in back to back years is will the new album be as good as the one that came before it, or will the album feel rushed and therefore the product will not be as good?

Barnes insured all of his twitter followers that this album would be #Betterthanundead and when the first single "Zombie Blood Curse" was released, it seemed that the new material was living up to Barnes' prediction.  "Zombie Blood Curse" is faster than some of Six Feet Under's more recent songs, but that doesn't make it any less haunting or brutal.  The opening riff is as heavy as it is catchy and will immediately have any listener headbanging along as Barnes takes you on a journey through his sick and twisted mind.  The song does have a slower section in the middle that is signature to the Six Feet Under sound but the song picks right up again.

Unborn starts with the song "Neuro Osmosis" where the listener is lured in by a haunting guitar line, which crescendo's until Barnes leaps from his black abyss and drags you down to the depths of hell.  The song is classic Six Feet Under, its slow, groovy, and as on Undead, Barnes' voice fits the atmosphere of the song perfectly.  But the journey through this dark world has only just begun.

From there the album thunders along, as Barnes leads you through his world of dark fantasy.  All the songs on Unborn have an unmistakable groove.  Its a groove that is very catchy and easy to headbang along to.  The songs are all about mid tempo, which is good for the listener as their necks will be able to last them the whole album. 

As for Barnes' vocal performance, he has never sounded better.  I know his vocal style is not as digestible as some other death metal vocalists.  But on Unborn Barnes has managed to walk the line between how brutal his voice sounds and how easy it is to understand his lyrics with great ease.  Out of all the Six Feet Under I have listened to, Unborn is definitely the easiest to understand him on. 

Overall, Barnes was right when he said that Unborn would be better than Undead.  The songs sound bigger and more intense with out loosing the sound that made Six Feet Under unique in the death metal scene and Barnes' vocals may be easier to understand, but they are just as dark and haunting as ever.  Unborn will please all death metal fans and if you are a death metal fan who is new to Six Feet Under start with Unborn, it is Six Feet Under at their finest. 

Overall Rating: 8/10
Thanks guys!

Remember if there is an album you want me to review or an artist you want me to talk about, leave a comment below or tweet me @zachktheanimal

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Heavatar- Opus 1: All My Kingdoms

Hey guys! I know I have been away from the blog for a while, I just haven't had as much free time as I had hoped this semester and school work has priority over the blog.  But I am on my spring break and going to be doing some much needed blog posts.  I've got three reviews (including this one) and a new artist I want to talk about. 

There is a saying "better late than never" and with that in mind I present my review of Heavatar's debut album Opus 1: All My Kingdoms, enjoy!
I have come to learn that whenever I see a video from Napalm Records on my YouTube feed to immediately click on it because chances are its going to be an artist playing some very creative and original music (case and point the video for Russkaja's new song Energia).  Heavatar was no exception.  Born from the mind of Van Canto's Stefan Schmidt, Heavatar proposes a unique concept, writing epic power metal anthems with influences from famous classical compositions. 

Now any experienced metal head (or any who watched the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, and if you haven't seen that movie find a way to watch it right after you finish reading this post!) will know that metal takes influences from classical music.  To name a couple of examples; guitarist Randy Rhodes was said to be a huge fan of classical music, and the famous introduction to the Black Sabbath song "Black Sabbath" is taken right from the Mars movement of Holsts' The Planets.  There is also the example of bands such as The Human Abstract who decided to take Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and do a metal cover of it (all three movements not just the first) and the band Pergamum who's song "Classical Metal X" is a medley of famous classical compositions.

Heavatar takes this one step further and has presented the listener a full album where 8 of the 9 songs on it are influence by classical compositions one way or another.  What was even more helpful was the booklet that came with the album tells you what classical composition the Heavatar song is taking its influence from.

Opus 1: All My Kingdoms starts off with the lead single "Replica" and it was a great song to start off the album with because not only is it an extremely catchy song, but it is the song that best showcases the band's mission.  "Replica" takes its influence from the Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (probably my favorite classical composition).  Heavatar not only takes the main melody as their own, but Stefan wrote lyrics and melody to go along with Bach's original melody.  Now even though the song may borrow Bach's melody at certain times, the song is not entirely Bach's composition played on guitars and with original lyrics sung over it, Heavatar takes Bach's composition and combines it with their own original lyrics and melodies to create power metal that is unlike anything currently slaying dragons in the power metal scene today. 

Not all the songs on All My Kingdoms are as obvious as "Replica" with their classical influences.  The second song, "Abracadabra" takes its guitar solo from one of Paganini's compositions, I would not have known this if it wasn't for a video of Stefan explaining all the tracks on the album.  The fact that Abracadabra's influence is not as obvious as "Replica" (to be fair none of them are as obvious as "Replica") does not take away from the song.  Every time I listen to "Abracadabra" I imagine a huge crowd of people at some big open air festival (Waken maybe?) jumping in unison to the catchy chorus.

Another example of songs not being obvious with their influences is "Elysium at Dawn".  The booklet says that it takes its influence from Beethoven's Fur Elise and I was expecting to hear the familiar melody clearly in the song.  But Heavatar is a kind group and doesn't bludgeon you over the head with the melody, instead they hid it in a melodic passage between verse and chorus.  It took my 5th listen to (I think) to finally find there they had hid it and when I did I felt like the smartest human being alive.  The fact that Heavatar did not make it so obvious adds to the overall character of the song and shows just how original Heavatar is as a band.    

My favorite song on the album though has to be "Long Way Home", although it is one of the slower songs on the album, it is by far the catchiest and the most epic song on All My Kingdoms.  After I had listened to the album a few times I went back and watched Stefan talking about the album again.  He said that on this song he enlisted the help of some of his fellow Van Cantians (?) to sing the chorus.  The result is amazing and inspirational.  The huge choir sound Heavatar creates invokes the image of a soldier on a long journey eagerly wanting to return home as he ventures through the dense wilderness of the Heavatar fantasy land (it is also a great song to listen to on a long plane ride if you are coming home for a break).  After one play through of "Long Way Home" the listener will immediately hit replay again and start singing along with the chorus every time it comes around.

The only song on All My Kingdoms that does not take influence from a classical piece is the last one "To the Metal".  In his video description, Stefan did not say anything about this song because he wanted it to be a suprise but in essence what it is is a song about being a metal head and it pays tribute to all the bands who have influenced Stefan as a musician.  I will admit this song did take me a while to get used to, but after a few listens I can honestly say that I really like this song.  Anyone who is a metal head can identify with some of the things Stefan is singing about.  For me it was when he talked about people telling him to stop listening to metal because it may be childish or immature, but Stefan didn't care, he likes the metal and nothing was going to stop him from listening to it.  That is the way I feel about metal music as well, it will be with me for as long as I live.

Overall Opus 1: All My Kingdoms is a treat.  The songs are as catchy and epic as the one that came before it and I can honestly say that there is not a bad song on the album.  Although some of the songs are not as obvious as to their classical influences, the songs are all unique and will satisfy listeners to no end.  All My Kingdoms will have listeners constantly hitting the replay button or queuing up their favorite tracks from the album to listen to again and again.  Its an album that has staying power and one that fans will be coming back to for a long time.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Thanks guys!

Don't forget if there is an album you want me to review or an artist you want me to talk about leave a comment below or tweet me @zachktheanimal.     

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Bullet For My Valentine- Temper Temper

Hey guys! Sorry this review is late I really wanted to take my time with this album, but I found some time today and I figured I'd sit down and give my review for Bullet For My Valentine's latest release, Temper Temper.  

I will admit when I first heard Bullet For My Valentine's last release Fever, I did not have a favorable reaction to it, I thought that the songs that were good like "Your Betrayal" and "The Last Fight", but overall the album was not one of my favorites from the band.  But I gave the album some time and I found the more and more I returned to it the more and more my opinion on Fever changed and now I actually really enjoy the album.  I kept that experience in the back of my mind when I took my first dive into their newest release Temper Temper.  

The first time I heard anything about this album was when I saw a tweet from Loudwire that Bullet had released a new single for their upcoming album.  That single happened to be the title track to the album.  At first I had mixed feelings for it, the song started off good, but the version I heard had really annoying clean vocals on the chorus.  "What happened to Matt's voice?" I thought "This does not sound good for the rest of the album."  My opinion on that song quickly changed when I saw the video for it, they had replaced whatever clean vocals I heard on that first version with rougher vocals that fit the song more.  That version renewed my faith in this album.

The next single I heard was the simple and catchy song "Riot", my first thought when I saw the video was "Where did all of Matt Tuck's hair go?" Needless to say I am not a huge fan of his decision to cut it.  But I really did enjoy the song "Riot", it brought me back memories of the Bullet For My Valentine that we heard on The Poison that we all know and love, it even included a ripping solo by Padge.  With the strength of these two singles I was excited to go pick up this album to see what the the rest of Temper Temper had in store for me.

Without even listening to the album my first observation was "Kick ass album cover!" I love the outstretched bloody hands, it totally beats that weird crab girl they had on Fever and is probably my favorite next to the cover of The Poison.

After my first listen to Temper Temper I was left with the same feeling that Fever left me with, but I had a hunch this would happen so I gave the album more time.  On the subsequent listens that followed I did not feel my opinion on the album changing.  So I decided to do a comparison listen.  I listened to Fever immediately followed by Temper Temper, yet my feeling about this album did not change that much.

Temper Temper is by no means a bad album.  Songs like the title track, "Riot, "Breaking Point", "Saints & Sinners" and "Livin' Life (On the Edge of a Knife)" are catchy and pack that classic Bullet For My Valentine punch that fans have come to know and love.  Songs such as "Truth Hurts", "Leech" and "P.O.W." definitely took me some time to get used to and songs such as "Dead to the World" and "Tears Don't Fall (pt. 2)" in my opinion should not be on the album.  I think I understand where they were trying to go with "Tears Don't Fall (pt. 2)",  the song would bring back nostalgia from the first album and bring a smile to fan's faces, but in all honesty it made me upset, and if anything made me want to listen to the first (and really only) "Tears Don't Fall" to remind myself of how awesome that song is and pretend this "pt. 2" just never happened.

Is Temper Temper better than Fever? No, is it better than The Poison or Scream Aim Fire? No.  While it does have some misses on it, the hits are good enough to make up for the misses and keep fans of the band happy but are still not as good as the previous three albums.  And who knows? Maybe as I give this album more time, it will grow on me the same way Fever did.  Also if you can I recommend picking up the "deluxe version" the bonus track "Not Invincible" is awesome and their cover of "Whole Lotta Rosie" is fantastic as well.

Overall Rating 6.5/10

Thanks guys!

PS if there is an album you want me to review, or an artist you want me to talk about tweet me @zachktheanimal or leave a comment below.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Zombified-Carnage Slaughter and Death

Hey guys! I know I am late with this review, but I had a busy weekend and did not have time to sit down and write a review until now.  So without further ado here is my review of Zombified's Carnage Slaughter and Death

Are you a fan old school death metal that is struggling to find a band that brings back the raw power that was the death metal of the 80s and 90s? Well look no further than Zombified's latest effort Carnage Slaughter and Death

Sweden's Zombified started as a two man project back in 2006 and after quickly making a three song demo decided to recruit more players to fill out the band.  Shortly after that the band released their first album Zombified Slaughtermachine (love these names!) and after that was released the band began to work on the album that is now Carnage Slaughter and Death a 12 track offering of ripping old school death metal. 

Like the Gloria Morti release Lateral Constraint, Carnage Slaughter and Death was released in Europe by Cyclone Empire and through their partnership with Metal Blade records was released in the US this year. 

If there are two things Zombified is good at its 1) writing kick ass death metal and 2) coming up with some of the best names for albums.  The title Carnage Slaughter and Death embodies everything death metal fans love about that specific genre of music into a simple phrase, and then the band takes that one step further and incorporates that into a song with the same name. 

Which brings me to their music, Carnage Slaughter and Death should be on the top of every death metal fan's wishlist if its not already in their possession.  The band wastes no time in serving up some of the best old school death metal I've heard from a newer band in a while.  The band kicks things off with "Carnage Slaughter and Death" which was the single from the album (I feel weird to call it a single per say, but it was the song Metal Blade uploaded to their YouTube page and I didn't know a better name to call it).  The title track wastes no time assaulting the listener with ripping guitars, insanely fast blast beats, and no holds bar vocals that death metal fans know and love.  From there the band keeps their energy as they storm their way through 11 more brutal songs never stopping to catch their breath or to give the listener a break from the onslaught of metal.  

Like Gloria Morti, I have nothing to compare Carnage Slaughter and Death to because I don't have their first album (like I said in the last review if anyone knows where I can find Zombified Slaughtermachine please let me know!).  But something tells me that Zombified seems like a band that sticks to the phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" so I think its safe to assume that Carnage Slaughter and Death only builds and improves off of what was Zombified Slaughtermachine.

Like I said before Carnage Slaughter and Death is a must for a fan of death metal.  If you like bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under , or Jungle Rot (a band who I think they sound very similar to) then this album is for you.  Also if you still are feeling bummed out from the extreme disappointment that was Morbid Angel's latest release, Carnage Slaughter and Death will make you forget that that album ever happened.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Thanks guys!

Remember if there is an album you want me to review of a band you want me to talk about, tweet me @zachktheanimal or leave a comment below.